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Create a Paperback Cover

Your cover must be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image. Your cover must also include bleed. The topics below include our top tips for avoiding common file rejections. Cover Creator can also help you design a basic paperback cover that meets KDP's specifications. See a list of professional cover designers.

You have two cover finish options: glossy and matte. Learn more about print options.

Recorded webinar: Creative Cover Solutions

Supported file types and size limits

  • File type. Your cover must be a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  • File size. Cover files larger than 650MB won't convert. We recommend a file size of 40MB or less because large files can slow down printing.

Setting your cover size

Your cover needs to be sized with bleed in order to meet our quality standards. Our templates make it easier to create a print-ready paperback cover with programs that can open a PNG or PDF file and save a PDF file. Download a cover template.

If you want to set up your file yourself, try our calculator. After you enter your ink and paper choices, trim size, and page count, the calculator will generate a layout like this:

Formatting your cover background

  • Bleed. All covers have bleed. If you want to add a background (e.g. color or image), make sure it extends 0.125" (3.2 mm) beyond the final trim line on all outside edges. All books are trimmed to size, and to ensure that the background fills the page, it needs to extend 0.125" (3.2 mm) past where the book will be trimmed on the top, bottom, and outside edges. This will prevent a white border from appearing at the edge when your book is trimmed.
  • Illegible text. When choosing a background, consider how much it contrasts with the text. If the colors are too similar, the text might blend into the background and be hard to read.
  • Borders. We don't recommend borders because we must allow for a 0.125" (3.2 mm) production variance that may trim the border or cause it to appear uneven. If your file includes borders, they should cover at least 0.25" (6.4 mm) inside the trim line. If you include a white border, it must meet our minimum border width or we may reject your file.

Shifting of the spine up to 0.0125" (3.2mm) in either direction is within acceptable print variance. If the shift is greater, the copy is considered defective. We don’t recommend hard edges on the spine due to the known 0.0125" (3.2mm) shift variance, as hard edges make this shift more apparent.

Adding images

  • Bleed. When adding images, make sure they extend 0.125" (3.2 mm) beyond the final trim line on all edges. This will prevent a white border from appearing at the edge when your book is trimmed.
  • Image color, size, and quality. Images may be CMYK or RGB color. All images should be sized at 100%, flattened to one layer and placed in your document at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Learn more about high-resolution images.

Adding text

  • Front and back cover text. When adding text, make sure it's at least 0.125" (3.2 mm) inside the trim lines. Also, no front or back cover text should extend into the spine area.
  • Spine text. Your book must have at least 79 pages to add spine text. If your book has fewer than 79 pages, don’t add spine text. Also, spine text needs at least 0.0625" (1.6 mm) on either side so the text doesn't wrap onto the front or back cover.
  • Book details. As you add text to your cover, make sure it exactly matches the book details (e.g., title, author name, edition, ISBN) entered during title setup.
  • Font size and color. Text should be at least 7-point font so it's large enough for customers to read. Also, make sure the text doesn't blend into the background. This may happen if the text and background colors are too similar.

Barcode size and placement

When you upload your cover, you can choose to provide your own barcode, or we can provide one for you.

  • Use your own barcode. If you choose to use your own barcode, it must meet these specifications:
    • 300 dots per inch minimum resolution.
    • 2" (50.8 mm) wide and 1.2" (30.5 mm) high.
    • Does not obscure any other elements on the cover.
Note: If the barcode doesn't meet our specifications, we'll replace it.

  • If you don’t have your own barcode. We’ll place an ISBN barcode in a 2" (50.8 mm) by 1.2" (30.5 mm) white box in the lower right-hand corner of your book's back cover. If you leave images or text on this part of the cover, the barcode will cover them during printing, so don't leave anything important there.

See more details on barcode specifications.

Color requirements

  • Color profiles. Color management added to an image or file. We don't recommend including color profiles in your file. Color profiles can produce unexpected results. They are automatically removed before publishing.
  • Spot colors. Color generated from ink chosen from a color system (such as Pantone Matching System). Spot colors are used in offset printing and aren't compatible with KDP's print-on-demand model, so please don't include spot colors in your files. We recommend converting spot colors to RGB or CMYK.
  • Color spaces. Describes color numerically, such as RGB (digital cameras and computer monitors), CMYK (full-color printing), and grayscale (black and white printing). We don't recommend using multiple color spaces in a file because it can cause color variance and unexpected results when your book is printed.
  • Color Variance. With our print on demand model, we have acceptable levels of color tolerance. Most color variance happens as a result of environmental and mechanical factors. We always strive for the best quality when printing your title. Color variance occurs for many reasons that are not related to your file, however, taking all the steps you can to perfect your file will reduce the chances of it occurring.

Pre-publication checklist

Before you upload your file to KDP, make sure you:

  1. Save as a PDF. Your cover must be a single PDF that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
  2. Flatten all transparencies. These can cause the file to print with missing or distorted content. Consult your software's documentation to learn how.
  3. Embed your fonts. Consult your software's documentation to learn how.
  4. Remove crop marks, color bars, template text. Crop marks are lines showing where pages should be trimmed. Color bars are strips with a series of patches used to ensure color balance during printing. Also, remove any template text, PDF creation guides, or software references.

Want to preview your paperback before making it available to customers? Order a proof copy.

Update an existing cover

To update your cover, go to your Bookshelf and follow these instructions.

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